Project: A socio-ecological evaluation of wetlands restoration and reintroduction programs in favour of the emblematic European pond turtle and associated biodiversity: a pan-European approach 

Acronym EMYS-R (Reference Number: BiodivRestore-324)
Duration 01/02/2022 - 01/02/2025
Project Topic The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 emphasizes that “we need nature in our lives”. Yet, the world is currently facing its 6th biodiversity crisis partly due to land mismanagement. Habitat restoration and reintroduction of threatened species are considered an operational strategy for limiting biodiversity erosion. The European pond turtle Emys orbicularis (hereafter ‘Emys’) is of particular interest in this context: in Europe where wetlands declined by 90% since the 18th century, it has suffered the most dramatic decline of all reptiles. The fact that conservation measures in favor of Emys benefit to biodiversity and the positive public perception it enjoys, explain why Emys has received much attention from scientists and stakeholders. Over the last 3 decades, the EU has funded numerous projects for wetland restoration in favor of Emys. Yet the results of these measures need to be more intensely promoted. A key question remains unanswered: what are the most effective wetland restoration methods suitable for sustainable maintenance of the European pond turtle and associated wildlife throughout Europe? EMYS-R consolidates an existing international network of researchers and stakeholders to share complementary knowledge on past, present and future wetlands, biodiversity and their management. It is a 3-year participatory action-oriented research project based on seminal theories in humanities, social and natural sciences. It aims at testing the hypothesis that higher degrees of wetland restoration can compensate for limited capabilities of captive-bred Emys to settle in the wild, and how specifically such conservation actions benefit society by bringing together people and nature. EMYS-R aims at 1) investigate the ecological processes improving wetland restoration and Emys reintroduction based on a) a focus on habitat recovery after restoration using biocenotic indices; b) a focus on Emys by monitoring reintroduced populations and their impact on other species using state-of-the-art biologging and eDNA. 2) assess tradeoffs and synergies between targets, benefits and policies, with a) an ecological focus on nontarget species (threatened amphibians and invasive crayfish); b) a socio-economic focus on value benefits of restoration, people’s perception of restored nature, citizen science and deliberative processes involved in multi-stakeholder decision settings related to nature conservation. 3) ultimately produce guidelines for optimal wetland restoration protocols in favor of Emys reintroduction and people engagement in nature conservation based on a) our integrative approach, b) a review of past and current results, and c) a new model forecasting near future distribution and abundance of Emys at the European scale. This very first integrated analysis of socio-ecological processes in degraded wetlands will lead to socially supported, effective wetland restoration in favor of emblematic Emys and associated local biodiversity throughout Europe.
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Network BiodivRestore
Call BiodivRestore Transnational Cofund Call 2020-2021

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Strasbourg Coordinator France
2 University of Strasbourg/CNRS Partner France
3 National School for Water and Environment Engineering Partner France
4 Senckenberg Nature Research Institute Partner Germany
5 Daugavpils University Partner Latvia
6 University od Gdansk Partner Poland
7 Civitas collegium Partner Poland
8 European Collectivity of Alsace Partner France
9 Germersheim Kreisverwaltung Partner Germany
10 Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union Partner Germany